Monday, May 25, 2020

Video Sharing - Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis

Due to COVID-19, a financial crisis seem to be looming and it got me interested to look back at past financial crisis again. Recently watched a documentary on the 2008 financial crisis which described what really happened back then. Financial crisis is scary indeed. Now I know why those who had invested back then said it was a scary experience. But on hindsight, the world recovered from the crisis nevertheless and made more people rich for those who had invested in the right companies.

Here's the video for sharing:

Monday, May 18, 2020

Investing during crisis - Making sure the company survives

We are undoubtedly seeing a financial crisis unfolding before our eyes due to the COVID-19. Because of the lockdown of many countries around the world, governments have effectively created bigger problems to solve moving forward. Many investors have been preparing to take the opportunity of a lifetime to invest during a crisis. There was excitement at first when stock prices drop drastically and many investors started to buy stocks. The only past similar pandemic which we thought we have seen before is the SARS crisis back in 2003. No one would have imagined that the COVID-19 turned out much worse than the SARS crisis and now we are preparing for an even unpredictable future ahead.

There is no doubt many stocks are at attractive valuations now including blue chips and REITS. The problem now is many valuation methods are forward looking but there is no way we can analyse how the future will be and how a company will perform in the future. If we use macroeconomic factors to analyse sectors and industries to buy stocks, it is also very difficult now because many economists will not even know how the future will be. In the end, how the financial future will look like will depend on government policies and regulations.

Welcome to investing in a crisis

Many of us have been preparing for a crisis to happen so we can buy stocks at great prices. This has happen over and over again in the past such as the GFC, AFC and other crisis. The stocks market always goes back up isn't it?

Yes, indeed the stock market always goes back up after a crisis. However, what was not told to us is many companies also don't survive a crisis. It is therefore of utmost importance that we focus on whether a company can survive when investing during a crisis. 

I myself am investing during this crisis and it has been a roller coaster ride. I know that losing money is part of investing during a crisis but the psychologically effects of losing money is still hard to stomach. My greatest worry nowadays is whether the companies I invest in will survive this downturn. It is really hard to predict but we definitely can use some financial knowledge to reduce the risk of losing our money entirely. I shall explain some of the things I look into for my investments now.

Focus on the balance sheet and cashflow statement

During a crisis, most companies earnings will take a hit. Many companies will report drop in revenue and profits. Without the revenue to pay their staff salaries, rental, loans and other business expenses, many companies will have to dig into their pockets. If they have no cash in their pockets, they may have to close down entirely and file for bankruptcy. This is how a company will not survive a crisis. We must remember cashflow is the life of a business especially during a crisis.

With lockdown in Singapore, many companies are suffering. Tourism is the worse hit as there are no more tourists in Singapore and places such as hotels, tourists attractions and other businesses which depend on tourists for revenue will be greatly impacted. Let's look at a company Genting Singapore which is no doubt the worse hit company during this COVID-19 pandemic. The resorts world Sentosa is totally closed down during the circuit breaker period in Singapore. In the near future, tourists arrivals to Singapore will probably still be low so their revenue will definitely be affected. Can this company survive?

Genting Singapore has initiated cost cutting measures and cut their staff pay by 9-18%. The good thing is the Singapore government is also paying 75% of staff salaries for Genting Singapore employees. Staff cost came up to about 448M in FY2019 for them. Looking at their balance sheet, they have 3.9 Billion in cash which can pay for about 8 years of staff salaries even if they don't make any money. This is really a huge sum of cash they have. Their current liabilities which includes borrowings is at 703M. With their cash, they can also pay of their current liabilities if needed. If you're confused on current assets and current liabilities at this point in time, you might want to read my post on the balance sheet to understand more. 

Genting Singapore Balance Sheet for FY2019

We can use the current ratio to determine if a company is in good financial standing. A current ratio of more than 1 generally means they are able to meet short term obligations if they were to be due all at once. For Genting Singapore, their current ratio is a healthy 5.87. On the other hand, if we look at another company, Singapore Airlines (SIA), their current ratio is a low 0.44. This means they are not able to meet its short term obligations such as repayment of loans in the next 1 year. This is the greatest red flag but nevertheless, the Singapore government has pledged to make SIA survive at all cost. However, this will definitely not be good for shareholders as their share value get diluted. At the time of writing, SIA shares have fallen to below $4 from a high of $9 at the beginning of the year.

How to analyse REITs and Trusts during a crisis

Another ratio we can look at is the interest coverage ratio. It is used to determine how easily a company can pay their interest expenses on outstanding debt. The ratio is calculated by dividing a company's earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) or Net Property Income (NPI) by the company's interest expenses for the same period. This ratio is often used for REITs. When a company's interest coverage ratio is only 1.5 or lower, its ability to meet interest expenses may be questionable. The ability the pay interest expense is important for REITs as majority of them are financed by debt. If they are unable to meet their debt obligations, the REIT will just collapse as what we have seen recently for one company, Eagle Hospitality Trust.

Let's look at a company in the hospitality industry, CDL Htrust. Its interest coverage ratio was 4.7x as at 31 Dec 2019. Of course this would have changed now and also in future as CDL Htrust income would have reduced and thus the interest coverage ratio will be lower. They had provided an operational update as of 31st March 2020 and indeed their interest coverage ratio dropped to 4.3x. This is after factoring the first 3 months of COVID-19 impact only. I suppose the next quarter will be worse.

Another important ratio to look at is the gearing ratio. This is the debt of a company relative to its equity or other financial metrics. For REITs, the gearing limit is 45% but now MAS has increased it to 50% to allow REITs to have more flexibility to get more borrowings if they need to survive. MAS has also relaxed the rule that mandates REITs to pay out 90% of their income to shareholders. This means REITs can now retain more of their income to strengthen their financial position.

Emerging out stronger from the crisis

If we invest in the right companies and they survive this crisis, we will definitely emerge out stronger from this crisis. Many have made their money through past financial crisis where at that time many people feared the markets. It is therefore not easy to invest during a crisis as most people would succumb to the psychological effects of losing money before the crisis is over.

Many of us have prepared for many years waiting for a crisis to happen before investing and now a crisis has happened. However, I suppose many of the same people who were waiting all their lives have trouble putting their money into the markets now out of fear of losing money. I would think this crisis will be a long drawn one and it will take time for the markets to recover. It won't be easy investing during these times as anytime the companies can go bankrupt and we will then surely lose money.

I have diversified all my investments to invest in different sectors and industries and I'm cautious not to put too much money into a single company. Focusing on whether a company will survive is of utmost importance during times like this. If a company has strong financial standing, they are able to take advantage of opportunities during a crisis and emerge out stronger. This is like us who have savings and we are able to look for opportunities to put our money in the right investments and emerge out stronger after this crisis. Without savings, we can't do anything in the first place and may lose our jobs (revenue) and end up worse. This goes the same for companies in the corporate world.

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

What The 1929 Great Depression, 1918 Spanish Flu and COVID-19 Have In Common?

The great depression was the worst economic downtown in history till today. It was said to be caused by the October 29 stock market crash but in actual fact, a failure in the government system played a part to it. The US central bank caused the money supply to contract by 25%, the US government increased taxes by more than 50% and resulted in world trade to collapse.

The impact of COVID-19 is now being linked to the 1929 great depression. But, will we really see a repeat of it? I would not think so unless some major economy in the world messed up their economic policy which is similar to the 1929 great depression. How about the Spanish Flu in 1918 which is known as one of the worst pandemic in human history, how is it similar to the COVID-19?

The 1918 Spanish flu lasted till 1920. During that time, lock down was also implemented in several cities and countries and social distancing was implemented. Despite infecting 500 Million and killing 50 Million people worldwide, we do not hear of any economic impact as great as the well known 1929 great depression or even the 1997 Asia Financial crisis or the 2009 global financial crisis. This shows that although pandemics will cause the economy to come to a standstill, it does not necessary lead to a major financial crisis.

Sign during the great depression

What Can We Expect Moving Forward?

If you're investing, you'll probably be worried about whether your investments will do well moving forward and what kind of impact will we expect to have on the economy? One thing for sure is that this pandemic may last 1-2 years and it will certainly have an effect on the economy and business activities. Let me list down several possibilities which we will see moving forward:
  1. Some businesses will collapse. Many companies are having trouble surviving due to weak cashflow. 
  2. There will be increased unemployment and more wage cuts in several sectors. Even Grab and deliveroo has announced wage cuts and retrenchments. Big companies like SATS, Genting, SIA, SMRT, ComfortDelgro, Singtel have also all announced wage cuts previously. 
  3. Lockdown cannot be forever but social distancing is here to stay. 
  4. Investments will take months and even years to recover. 
For our personal lives, times like this requires even more prudent financial planning. 6 months of emergency fund may not be enough now as many of us may lose our jobs and not able to find another one so soon. If you're working in non essential services sectors, its better to tighten your belt and save up more emergency funds. This is because some jobs may be lost completely and workers in these areas will need to retrain themselves to get new skills. Due to depressed economic activity, companies will get hit in their top line and they will definitely cut wages or retrench to protect their bottom line. It doesn't make sense for businesses in the tourism sector to keep their headcount when borders are likely to be closed for a prolong period of time. 

After the circuit breaker period on 1st June, it remains to see what other businesses will still remain shut. Night spots, tourist attractions may remain closed till further notice. Social distancing will continue so restaurants and F&B outlets will continue to face decline profits due to lesser patrons. Conferences and events will also require social distancing or may not be able to continue so these sectors will also be affected.

Nevertheless, the economy have to reopen at some point in time. Its a balance between controlling the pandemic and saving the economy. There are talks on the strategies moving forward to balance this but I would not think this is going to be easy. There will definitely be sacrifices. Studies have shown that adults below 50 years old do not get much affected by COVID-19 as many of them show little to no symptoms. The moving forward strategy may be to let adults below 50 years old to continue their daily lives but there needs to be a way to prevent them from spreading to their older parents or grandparents. Another report in the US said that this pandemic may take 2 years for most of the population to get herd immunity then the pandemic can end. Hopefully, there's a drug or vaccine which comes out soon so that the virus can be stopped.

The good news now is several countries have started to relax their lockdown measures and slowly opening up their economy. Although what we experience now is unprecedented, the world economy will definitely pick up again as always. In crisis, it is always the best time to pick up stocks for investment when prices are depressed. As long as the companies we invest in survives, it will definitely do well again in future. The economy will surely be different after this pandemic. Some companies will no longer be around and new companies will emerge. The question is are we able to spot the opportunities amidst this crisis?

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Unprecedented Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses & Personal Life

In just 1 month since my last post, the COVID-19 situation has become much worse putting the world in lock-down mode in almost every country. Singapore is not spared either as non essential shops and workplaces were forced to shutdown and the streets become quiet. Dining in at restaurants and hawker centres are also no longer allowed. Most of us will have to work from home and public transport becomes virtually empty.

I am writing this experience down as a record for the future me to refer back to what we have all went through in unprecedented times like this. Neither me or my parents or anyone possibly alive now has lived through times like this unless you went through world war 2 back then. During the SARS outbreak back in 2003, we didn't experience such lock down like what we have experienced now also.

Businesses are affected badly in all aspects. It started with tourism when borders of countries closed, then lock downs happened to restrict social gatherings and movement of people within the country. Without the demand of spending from people, businesses are definitely affected. No revenue, no profits, increased losses. This is what is happening.

Stocks have fallen from their peak to a low of 2230 for STI. It has now recovered to above 2500. Many people will be wondering is this a real recovery or just a dead cat bounce? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer though. Through the ups and downs of the market, I admit I did have fears about whether I should be buying more stocks. Many stocks were at attractive valuations when it dropped at the start but it continued to dropped more to the tune of 20-30%.

Talking about valuations, during a market crash, it also becomes difficult to value a company. If you're buying REITs, many are at attractive dividend yield and price to book of 0.50-0.70. This is 50% lower than its book value. Dividend yield for most REITs are as high as 7-8% and even more than 10%. However, as businesses are affected, dividends will definitely be reduced. Think about shopping centres owned by REITs, most of the shops have to close and some may even shut down completely if they become insolvent. This will affect the rental the REITs receive from their tenants and in turn affect dividends given to shareholders. Dividends can be cut 50% or more depending on the severity.

The tourism industry suffered the greatest hit in this crisis and may take the longest to recover. This is probably why hospitality REITs took the worst dive in this downturn. Hotels have their occupancy dropped to 20-30% only from the high of 90% as tourists disappear. Stocks like SIA, SATS, Genting Singapore which are all tourism related are affected too. Nevertheless, I bought more of tourism related stocks and also other REITs as I believe this will recover when the whole virus situation is over, borders are opened again and we can go on with our daily lives. This will minimally take 1 year and as long as 2-3 years to recover so if you're buying stocks, do be prepared for the long road ahead.

The key in investing during such a crisis is to make sure the companies you invest in will survive. If the company becomes insolvent, then you may potentially lose all the money you invested. One example of a REIT which became insolvent is Eagle Hospitality trust. Invest in bigger companies with strong foundation, more cash and lesser debt is crucial during this period. If you do not know which company to pick, just invest in STI ETF or other index ETFs is also another choice. It is almost guaranteed that if you invest in index ETF during this period, you'll be able to see profits when the economy recovers.

We are now in circuit breaker mode in Singapore which the government calls it. This is essentially a lock down which we are experiencing. Social gatherings of any size is now ban in Singapore both in public and private places. The law is so strict that under the infectious control act, it states that a person must not meet another individual not living in the same place of residence for any social purpose. This means no meeting of your grandparents, parents, siblings, relatives and even boyfriend or girlfriend who are not living in the same place of residence as you. Failure to do so will result in a fine of up to $10,000 and jail of up to 6 months under the infectious disease act.

The broader purpose of the circuit breaker is to reduce the number of infections of COVID-19 so we can get back to our normal lives as fast as possible. This will need the cooperation of everyone to make it happen. A single gathering at Hero's pub of 9 people in Singapore lead to a spread of the virus to 12 others at an international school and Singapore cricket club and causing 1 of them to die from the virus itself. If we all do our part to stay at home as much as possible during this period, we can all help to break the transmission of the virus once and for all.

Let's all stay safe, stay at home and keep calm during this period

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Investing During A Crisis - Are you ready for this ride?

By now, most of us should have experienced both excitement and fear in one way or another. Fear due to the virus and the economic recession, excitement due to having the opportunity to invest at low prices but at the same time still having the fear that stock prices can go lower. This is what I have been preparing for all these years but still when this hits, its hard to stomach the situation at one go.

To be honest, since I started investing about 10 years ago, I've not seen such a wild ride in the stock market before. This is worse than the European debt crisis when many European countries faced the possibility of bankruptcy which I've experienced in 2015. There were -100 points drop back then but it didn't occur so many times in a week as what we experienced just recently.

Is this worse than the last Global Financial Crisis in 2008?

During the last global financial crisis back in 2008 which is known to us as GFC, I was still in army and didn't have the money to invest. In a way, I was sheltered from what was going on and the only news source which I had was from the Straits Times newspaper which was delivered to the army camp everyday. Back then, smart phones were not so common and were not allowed in army camps also. However, I later on learned about the GFC from my university economics course and know that it was essentially a collapse of the financial system due to high leverage debt of corporations and individuals and most importantly junk debt. Many banks such as Bank of America and Citibank and even insurance company AIC almost collapsed. Eventually, one famous bank, Lehman Brothers did collapsed and the rest is history.

Now, the crisis we are facing now was started due to the COVID-19 virus. This is different from what we experienced before such as SARS which was not so infectious. This time, the virus caused many cities to go into lock down such as China's Hubei province, some cities in South Korea and even Italy lock down their whole country. Singapore also restricted access for foreigners coming from China, South Korea, Iran and many other European countries. This affected tourism quite a lot at an unprecedented scale. Then, Russia and Saudi Arabia didn't manage to agreed on oil prices and this sent the oil price nose diving rapidly. Oil prices is important to countries whose economy depend on its export and many countries will go into recession because of this also. Singapore too will not be spared. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee also mentioned that this crisis may affect Singapore worse than the GFC in 2008. This was reported in Bloomberg news here.

Are you ready for this ride?

Those who have been preparing for this crisis and saving up money for investment will benefit from it. I have started buying some stocks last week as valuations reached attractive levels. Many of the REITS also fell sharply which presents an opportunity to buy some of them such as CDL Htrust, Suntec and also bank stocks such as OCBC. These stocks are all trading below book value now with dividend yield of more than 5-6%.

Do I think the stocks will drop more? Honestly nobody will know the answer and if we're just waiting to catch the lowest price, then we might just miss out when stocks begin to recover. Over the many years of investing, I learnt that it is never easy to catch the lowest and when price starts to go up, we will be hoping or thinking that it might go down again then we do not dare to invest at all until the bull market begins again. This is psychology at play which is quite common for all investors.

Keep calm and invest in companies with attractive valuations and strong balance sheet

I am now 60% invested with 40% war chest left to accumulate slowly. There are just too many stocks to buy with attractive valuations of trading below book value and low PE ratio but now its also about the companies having a strong balance sheet to ride out this crisis. We do not want to invest in a company with weak balance sheet and they end up collapsing. It can happen and it will happen.

Diversification is also important which I always believe in. Sometimes no matter how good we are in reading financial statements, things can still turn drastically bad for a company in a short time which we won't even have time to react. When a company we invested in collapses, we should still be doing well because we have diversified our portfolio into different stocks. Then again, its about managing risks so we can invest more into stable companies and allocate less to more risky companies in our portfolio.

STI has dropped almost to a 5 year low at 2634 now. This is near to the 2015-2016 prices which I bought some stocks during the European debt crisis at attractive valuations. This is part of the reason why I've started accumulating some stocks again.

If we extend the chart to 2002, we can see the drop during the GFC in 2008 was about 50% from the high. STI drop now is about 25% from the high. Will we see another 50% drop this time? Its anybody's guess now. The question we should ask ourselves is if it drops another 25%, are we still prepared for it?

My own thoughts is the drop may not be the end for now. If it drops more, I'll be happy to accumulate again. Psychologically, we all need to be prepared for more drops and stocks prices may stay depressed for a few months and maybe even more than a year. Nevertheless, if we have invested in good companies at great valuations, we will mostly be assured to ride this out and have good returns from the stock market. Are you ready for this ride?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

COVID-19 and the opportunity to invest

It has been almost 2 months since I wrote something on my blog. Due to the COVID-19, I was so busy with work that I forgot about time totally. Regular readers would remember that I joined the healthcare industry in end 2018 and now due to this disease outbreak, I had to work extra hours with lots of extra work too. The business as usual work mostly had to be put down to cater time for this outbreak.

Honestly, this is the first time as an adult I've encountered such crisis before. During SARS back in 2003, I was still in secondary school then so I wouldn't know what is happening in the economy. This time, this COVID-19 has caused fears in people where we have seen people rushing to buy stuff at supermarket, face masks and hand sanitisers being sold out in most retail shops etc. The greater impact which I see is on the broader economy due to the travel ban where tourism will be severely impacted. We have seen companies such as Temasek, Capitaland, SMRT, SIA and SATS announcing pay cuts, pay freeze and reduced bonuses etc. Some of the companies even ask their workers to go on voluntary no pay leave. I believe retrenchment will come later as companies struggle with their bottom line so there is genuine concern on everyone's rice bowl here.

Singapore just announced more travel ban for visitors from South Korea, northern Italy and Iran. This is on top of the travel ban for visitors from Mainland China. With every crisis, there is always opportunities especially in the stock market. Stocks should go down further if situation continues to get worse. The impact will be greater as each day passes with the travel ban and lesser tourists in Singapore and around the world.

Stocks which I'm monitoring to buy and have bought some includes CDL Htrust, SATS, Far East Htrust, Dairy Farm and Comfort Delgro. These are the companies which are impacted by the COVID-19 in one way or another. I'm also looking to accumulate more REITS such as Suntec, Capitaland Mall trust and Ascott Residence Trust if it goes lower. I've been researching and monitoring some of these stocks for years and do have some stake in some of the companies. This is the opportunity to accumulate as the stocks drop. I believe by the end of the year, the virus situation should be a non event already and stocks would have already recovered.

Investing during crisis is not that easy at all. It involves seeing losses in your portfolio and still believing in your conviction that the stocks you invest in are correct. It may take months for us to see our portfolio back to profits again. Those who buy the right companies and hold on throughout will be the winners at the end.

On a side note, being in the healthcare industry lets me see the good in people in times of crisis. There are many individuals and companies who have reached out to donate stuff to support healthcare workers fighting this virus at the front line. It is heartwarming to see such acts of kindness. To be honest, all these kind gestures do help to put a smile in the healthcare workers faces and keep them going as I've seen it myself. Some of them have to work long hours and even on weekends and sacrifice family time. Thanks to all who have supported!

I'll keep this post short and back to my busy life again. Stay safe everyone!

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

6D5N Cruise on Royal Caribbean Quantum of the seas - Part 2

As promised, this post will talk about the rest of my cruise from 3rd day onwards with Royal Caribbean's new ship home ported in Singapore, Quantum of the seas. Read part 1 here.

Day 3 - Penang

On the 3rd day morning, I woke up to some views on the balcony. The ship is approaching Penang early in the morning at 8am.

Ship approaching Penang

At Penang swettenham pier

View of Penang from my room balcony
The ship arrived early at Penang while I was still preparing to go for breakfast. There is no fixed time which you need to go down the ship as its really just free and easy. I went down comfortably around 9am plus after breakfast.

Going down the ship was fuss free. There was no queue at all and within minutes, we're stepping on Penang's land already. This is the first time I've been to Penang so its quite a new experience for me.

Penang pier. Quantum of the seas ship on the left. 
If you did not know, Penang has this free CAT bus which is provided by their local government. The bus covers quite a lot of areas along Penang and is completely free. I took this bus for all the places I went. The frequency of the bus is quite good most of the time around 5-10 mins.

View of the ship from the pier
The view of the ship from the pier was extraordinary big. The siza of the ship is bigger than the pier itself! The free CAT bus has stops just outside the pier. Its only around 5 mins walk. The first place we wanted to go is Chew Jetty which I read online is one of the must visit places in Penang. Its just 3 bus stops away from the pier by CAT bus.

Chew jetty has this kampong like feel which is interesting to see the history of Penang back then.

After visiting Chew jetty, we went in search for the famous Penang cendol at Penang road. Before having the cendol, we also bought some local delicacies such as Tamban biscuits and snacks from Ban Heang. The tamban biscuits were not bad. This shop was near to the cendol place so its quite convenient.

We found the cendol shop in one of the alleys at Penang road and ordered 1 each plus some fried kway teow to share. We were still quite full from the breakfast on the ship.

They put duck egg on the fried kway teow which is quite unique. However, taste wise, I have tasted much better ones in Singapore though.

The rest of the morning was just roaming around Penang and some short foot massage before we headed back to the ship at around 2pm. Going back to the ship was easy also but there was security checks which went very fast. I'm not sure if there's any prohibited foods which cannot be brought onboard but all the snacks I bought passed through security without any problems. I did see a person who was holding a cup of fresh fruit and the security didn't allow that.

After days of eating, its time to shed some of those calories. I went to the gym and it was so empty. The gym is huge with many equipment to use. Lots of treadmill for running also. I think I counted about 20 treadmills available.

After gym, it was time for a late lunch as we were getting hungry. We only had Cendol and shared 2 plates of Char kway teow for 4 person.

There's food always available on the cruise. We went to cafe@Two70 where they had gourmet sandwiches available. We also went to Sorrentos pizza for some fresh slices of pizzas.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around and taking some short nap. This is cruise life, so relaxing. Soon, it was dinner time again at Silk restaurant.

The dinner had some Asian options with Thai curry and rice so it was good for my parents who were not so used to western cuisines. Its funny how their Asian choices actually tasted better than the western options. We ordered Coq Au Vin and the chicken was totally hard and dry. My steak was overdone also when I asked for medium. This was feedback to the restaurant staff and they were kind enough to offer their apology and send a fruit basket to each of our rooms. This I feel was a good gesture and thoughtfulness. When we went back to the restaurant again, they remembered us and asked if we received the fruit basket.

Fish with rice - Quite good

Thai fish curry - Not bad 

Coq Au Vin - Chicken Dish, meat was too hard and dry

Steak Diane - Steak was overcooked and totally dry

Some berries dessert. Very nice

Creme Brulee - My favourite

Tiramisu - Very strong liquor taste, extremely soft and nice

Fruit basket from the restaurant to apologise for the food quality
Day 4 - Phuket

On day 4, we arrived in Phuket early in the morning at around 7am. It a little more tricky at Phuket because the ship is tendered in the middle of the sea and we have to take a smaller ferry to the land itself.

They made an announcement that those who wish to get down the ship to Phuket island may do so before 8am to take advantage of the early tendering process. After 8am, we will need tender tickets to get down the ship.

For me, I didn't get down the ship before 8am. We still went for our breakfast as usual at the Windjammer and it was still very crowded. Guess everyone is not really in a rush to get down the ship also.

At 8am, they started to ask people to go and collect tender tickets. I went to collect tickets at around 8:30am and there was no queue at all. I took the ticket no 9 and in just 15 mins, we were called to proceed to the gangway to take the ferry to the main island. Process was very fast we were on the ferry in 5 mins and reach Phuket island in 15 minutes.

View of Phuket from my room balcony

View of the ship from the tender boat to Phuket

The pier which the tender boat stopped at

Reached Phuket Patong beach
First activity in the morning is to go for massage. I found a good massage place called Healthland massage but I underestimated the distance to go to that place. We took around 30 mins to walk all the way from Patong beach to the massage place.

After massage, we went to find lunch and proceeded to walk from the massage place towards jungceylon shopping centre. On the way, we saw a seafood restaurant which looks promising. They had some live seafood on display and price was reasonable too. We proceeded to have lunch there.

In the end, we ordered their set meal which consist of the following dishes: Lobster, prawns, shellfish, crab, pineapple rice and tom yum soap was included. The cost came up exactly at $100. The seafood is fresh as its all live so I think the price is really reasonable. Don't think we can get this kind of price back in Singapore.

After lunch, we walked all the way to jungceylon shopping centre as we were already nearby. Inside the shopping mall, there's nothing much to shop so we only bought some local snacks back. From the shopping mall, the walk back to the pier to take the ferry back to the ship was still quite far and the sun was really hot. We decided to take a taxi which cost $8 for a 5 mins ride. Their taxi is surprisingly expensive there.

We were back on the ship around 3:30pm. Many people were also heading back by this time even though the last time to take the ferry back is 7pm. For the rest of the afternoon, I went for a swim at Solarium as well as the indoor pool. Its always great to have a swim on the ship and its relaxing to soak in the hot tubs which is aplenty on this ship.

For dinner, I was allocated to Americon Icon grill restaurant this time as my reservation was much later at 8pm. The environment here is much brighter and noisier which I prefer the silk restaurant environment which is more calm and relaxing. I feel the service at the silk restaurant was much better also as the waiters were more friendly there. However, Americon Icon grill food was much better in my opinion. I'm not sure if it was because of the food on that day or they really have a different kitchen staff which was better.

Tomato soup - Not bad

Coconut shrimp - very nice

Almond crusted cod fish - This was the best dish I had on this cruise

Wild mushrooms risotto - Rich and creamy

Braised beef

Three Cheese Ravioli - A must try

Some banana caramel dessert - Super delicious

At the end of everyday, the housekeeping will fold some animals using a towel. On this particular day, they decided to fold a monkey hanging on a clothe hanger, quite funny actually.

Day 5 - Sea Day

The ship left Phuket around 8pm on day 4 and started sailing back to Singapore. The whole of day 5 is sea day which means everyone is on the ship and has nowhere to go. The ship is also the most crowded on this day.

True enough, breakfast at windjammer is really crowded but I still could find seats after awhile. The next activity is laser tag which is quite fun actually. I reserved my time slot at 10am and was able to get in within 10 mins. It was so fun I queued for it to play another round but had to wait close to an hour this time.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, going to the pool and solarium again and just enjoying the facilities the cruise had to offer. As this was the last night, they had a good theater performance called Sonic Odyssey. In my opinion, this was the best show for the cruise. They used all kinds of instruments in this musical including an Earth harp which is amazing.

After the Sonic Odyssey show, there was a vistarama fireworks party at Two70 lounge. Its a virtual fireworks party and they manage to make everyone so high and happy.

After this party, it was already 11pm. The next morning, we woke up early for breakfast before 7am and the ship is already at Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Getting off the ship was orderly as they already told us where to go according to our stateroom numbers the night before.

That's all for my 6D5N cruise on Royal Caribbean Quantum of the seas. To add on, I also had the surf and stream WIFI and it was good most of the time except for a few occasions when the WIFI disconnected. I guess this is normal while out at sea and I realised when it disconnects, its always during stormy weather. Other than that, the internet was fast and I was able to use whatsapp, surf the net and use Facbook without any problems though the internet doesn't come cheap at about $20 per day.

Will I go on the cruise again? Probably not unless I get bored of travelling and just want to relax again. There are many other countries I still want to explore so I might as well spend my money on more exotic travels in the future.

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